Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Daycares opening while market saturated

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With a failing economy and a flooded market, two business-minded women believe they can make their new daycares a success in Minden where five childcare centers already exist.

Megan McEachern, owner and director of Mae Mae's Munchkins, will operate as a small daycare with a capacity of approximately 15 children.

"I can give more attention to the children in a smaller center," McEachern said.

She feels that having a small center will appeal to parents that want to keep their children from being exposed to more illnesses, which could happen at a larger center.

"I feel my prices are competitive as well," said McEachern.

She also believes that a hands-on approach builds trust with parents and the staff.

In addition, she tries to see things from a parent's point of view and believes that talking with parents and being honest builds trust and rapport.

"As the owner, I feel like I should pull more weight than my staff," she said. "I wouldn't ask them to do anything that I wouldn't do myself."

Her love of children and the relationships she has built with parents will turn her in-home daycare into an official business. She has been in the childcare business for four years, running an in-home daycare the last two years.

Both entrepreneurs agree the children are their priority.

Mandi Porter, owner and director of Little Steps of Faith, will operate with a capacity of 82 children.

"Caring for someone's child is the most important customer service that you can provide. It's about making sure the kids feel the love of God and feel the spirit and it has to be safe when entering the center," said Porter, referring to why she wanted to open her business. "This was a huge leap of faith for my husband and I."

Porter explained it is easy to be mislead when starting a daycare.

"I believe that you have to be business-minded and knowledgeable about the entire business, from start to finish," Porter said. "It's not just a childcare center; it is a business, too. You have to provide the best care you can.

"I want to provide the personal care that you can get from an individual that would babysit your child, but also provide the structured learning environment that they can get from a childcare center," she continued.

Porter believes quality workers is also a contributing factor in building a business. By providing benefits to her employees, such as paying for college courses and giving discounted childcare, it gives them an opportunity to better themselves and it will also make for happy employees.

Other childcare centers in Minden – First Baptist Daycare, Emmanuel Baptist Child Development Center, City on the Hill Learning Center, Michele's Little Angels and Little Blessings – are weathering the storm of the economy by hanging on while enrollment fluctuates.

While First Baptist Daycare has a waiting list, there are enrollment opportunities available at the other centers.

A slow economy and parents losing their jobs have been contributing factors to lower enrollment, according to some centers.

In addition, stiffer rules have made it more difficult for some parents to receive child care assistance through the state that helps pay for a portion of their child's daycare tuition.
Childcare rates range from $75 to $105 per week, with most centers offering a sibling discount.

Hours of operation vary at each center from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. After school care and transportation are available at most centers, along with care during holiday breaks and summer.

Mae Mae's Munchkins at 189 Camp Smokehouse Rd., and Little Steps of Faith at 303 Sibley Rd. are awaiting licensure.






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